MaasSAC’s Agenda for June
30th May – 2nd June: Fountainebleau Bouldering Trip
3, 14, 17, 24, 27th June: Indoor Lead Course. Sign up until 1st June
16th June: Active Members Day (For everyone who is active in a committee!)
19th June: General Assembly
6th – 14th July: MaasSAC Basecamp in Chamomix. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Every Tuesday 18.30-19.30 @Radium: Lessons given by the members of the selection team.
As always, also keep an eye on the MaasSAC Facebook page!
It was the 18th of May. It was not a normal day. No, it was MaasSAC’s 35th birthday! How special! An occasion worthy of a visit to South Limburg. How did this special day unfold? Here is a small journal:
If someone had looked in the fields of Meerssen, he would have found a whole bunch of people chilling in the field. Hairy fairies? Hobbits? Hippies? Nah, ‘t was a herd of young and jolly climbers on a mission: Living off the land for a day. It was bush craft time.
As we know, even beneath and beyond civilization you are still able to survive in a comfortable manner. Bram Oosterbroek and Jerome Paques from Liv’n Nature taught us some things about this noble craft. They showed and challenged us to make fire, identify animal traces and farm plenty of fruits provided by the forest.
While nibbling on a Solomon’s seal root our knowledge about the natural environment and how to use it wisely expanded exponentially. It was very informative and interesting.
However, this day’s activity only circled around one goal: collecting schmeckles. Hmmm schmeckles. Schmeckles form the fundaments of the forest. They are also known as Daldinia Concentrica, a fungus that can maintain a smoldering spark. Very valuable for the fire dependent homo sapiens such as ourselves. Give me some of that schmeckely goodness please!
Team Sytze found most schmeckles, making its members the kings of the forest and holders of the one true schmeckle. After that was set, we had to rush back to beautiful Maastricht to attend a lecture by the legendary Roland Bekendam, who gave an endlessly inspiring PowerPoint presentation on the infinite adventures he has had on different mountains in the world. His modest and hands-on attitude seemed characteristic for his expeditions. True spirit and perseverance reappeared in all his incredible stories about life on high mountains.
The lovely lustrum day ended with an incredible buffet, served in Laureanne’s kitchen. All dietary forms were represented in a harmonious collection of good foodies. To me, the vegan Zoervleis was at the top of the list. Brechje, how ‘d you even do that?!
All in all, it was great. Credits to Ruth and Lau for making it happen!
Dear MaasSAC, happy birthday! Thank you for being. I wish you many more years to come!
I’ve been properly climbing since September last year. Until then I’ve only been bouldering for a few years and only did proper climbing twice at a birthday party when I was a child. However, since I’m in this new city and I joined a climbing association I thought “Why not give climbing a shot as well?”. After the toprope course I already realized that this is something different than bouldering and also very enjoyable (understatement of the month). So, after some weeks of climbing at IVY I also took the lead climbing course to increase the feeling of proper climbing.
Before the first lead-climbing lesson you think “What is so different anyway? You’re still safe on the wall, right?!”. Boy, I was wrong. When the rope that you’re about to be secured with is lying next to your feet and not already neatly put through the top most anchor you get a different feeling in your stomach. That feeling gets amplified as soon as you start your ascend of the wall and you are looking for the first clip to put your rope in. You soon start to realize that before lead climbing you did not need to be able to occasionally hold yourself on the wall (you just did it for chalking up, shaking out your arm or style points), but now you need to have the power and stamina to do this quite frequently to put your rope in the next clip until you reach the top. Pushing yourself in lead-climbing is different to toprope, because now when you don’t manage to hold on you will fall. In toprope falling is very convenient. Your partner belays you quite tightly and you basically just sit back into your harness when your arms (or fingers) give in. In lead on the other hand falling means that you are falling the amount of rope that you are above the last place you clipped in and the amount of slack your partner gave you (which is most of the time a bit looser than toprope). This extra amount of thrill combined with the bigger amount of freedom when climbing makes topping a route in lead so much more rewarding.
I really fell in love with lead-climbing and therefore the next step (apart from climbing harder routes) would be to do the same outdoors. Luckily, I got the honor of participating in the MaasSAC Outdoor lead-climbing (cool people call it OV) course, which takes place over multiple weekends. A typical OV weekend starts at 8 in the morning at UM sports where all the participants gather and drive together with the instructors to Belgium to Yvoir or Freyr. On arrival the participants are divided into groups of two and a dedicated instructor that makes sure that you don’t accidentally kill yourself while at the same time teaching you things about outdoor climbing so that you are able to take care of not killing yourself safely. The equipment needed for outdoor climbing is a “tiny” bit more than indoor climbing. For outdoor climbing a rope and your belay device with carabiner is not enough. Not by far. You need: a rope, about 12 quickdraws, about 6 carabiners, a helmet, 2 lifelines (sounds important? They are!) and Topos (books of the area that describe the area and the routes). After gathering the material you go to the rock and do your first “pitch” with your partner. A pitch is a part of the route that can be up to a rope-length long. A route can consist of only one pitch (called single-pitch) or multiple pitches (Multi-pitch (genius naming, right?!)). We are doing multi-pitching, so what you need to do when you are at the end of your first pitch that you lead-climbed is build your standplaats or belay-station to get your partner up. When he is at your standplaats he leads next pitch, builds a standplaats to get you up and so on until you are at the end of the route.
Sounds easy and straightforward, right? Well, the “not-accidentally-killing-yourself”-part is not so uncomplicated. A lot of things can go wrong and (at least) my mammal brain was pretty keen on reminding me constantly of the things that could go wrong. Although I tried my best at doing the knots we learned to secure ourselves I had issues in the beginning to make them. In the beginning they all appeared to be the same, but after about the second weekend it became easier to recognize them, make them and understand how they work. Knots are cool! Sounds lame, but they are!
On the third weekend we got to learn some more advanced techniques such as rescue techniques. We learned a technique whose name is a pain for all those whose mother tongue is not german: the famous “Schweizer Flaschenzug”. It not only serves to pull up an unconscious climber the wall, but also to show the superiority of the german language (ha-ha-ha).
As the experience of switching from top-rope to indoor-lead gave me another view on my current climbing career so did the outdoor climbing experience. Outdoor climbing is not only about climbing itself, but also about where you climb and who you climb with. The view that you get when you ascend a vertical wall of (at first “only”) 100 meters and you look left and right is breathtaking. When you top out the feeling of what you (and your partner) just achieved (you just climbed a big rock just using your hands and feet!!) is amazing.
Another thing I noticed was that sometimes when you have a little bit time for yourself on the wall was that my brain had some weird incentives… You are up there in about 50 meters with nothing but air and stone beneath you and your brain tells you to “clip out and jump”. That was quite unsettling, but I heard from others that they had the same experience. I guess it’s just your brain testing whether you are still rational. After all, you are climbing a rock with your bare hands and feet just for fun.
However, not only the climbing itself was amazing, also the evenings on the campsite where a lot of fun. We cooked together, ate together and even sang together. People told stories from their climbing trips and what their future climbing plans are.
All in all the OV course was a very nice and challenging experience for me. At first I was very afraid to climb outside, but this feeling dispersed after I climbed some more and got confident that I wouldn’t kill myself by accident so easily. All the other participants helped to make it even more enjoyable. Without them it would not have been the same fun and enjoyable experience.